Ascension – Part 2
Written by taliesan :: [Tuesday, 04 July 2006 11:57] Last updated by :: [Wednesday, 08 May 2013 12:01]
Ascension – Part 2
Author's Note: Thanks for the feedback that was sent in. I know that online writers and artists always say that feedback is their lifeblood for doing these kinds of things … and it really is. You'd be surprised at just how far even a handful of comments and critiques can go. I fleshed out the storyline more and came up with a definite sequence of events instead of a more vague notion of what to do along the way to the ending I had visualized. And no, you are not crazy, I am switching from the first person perspective of the Part 1 to a third-person narrative; if feels more 'comic-bookish' to switch perspectives like that between certain installments. But, enough of that. The usual disclaimer stuff: all characters copyright me, e-mail me to post this on another site, send any comments to my PM on SWM.
When last we left: New kid at school Ryan Blake met Andrea King, who showed him just how different from the other girls she is after a mild earthquake hits.
The sound of a crow's caw echoed off the foothills as the dust and vibrations settled down from the tremor. Ryan was still crouched on the ground, panting. His heart was racing, but not from having experienced his first earthquake. It wasn't even just from the near miss of a huge boulder shaken loose by the quake almost ending his life.
His heart was almost pounding out of his chest because Andrea was actually holding that boulder; as casually as he might hold a pillow. As the crow's call died out, Ryan found his voice. “How … how …?”
Andrea shook her head. “I really don't know. I just … can.”
Ryan just nodded numbly, his eyes wide. This explained how Andrea was able to toss those bullies off of him; how she was able to run so fast while looking like she was just jogging. But still … what was she?
Both Ryan and Andrea jumped a bit when the stillness was broken by Ryan's cell phone going off. A brief moment of terror gripped Ryan's heart as he thought Andrea might loose control of the boulder that had to surely weigh several tons. But Andrea just giggled at her own squeal of surprise at the abrupt phone call. Ryan pulled out his phone and the screen display identified his father as the caller.
“Ummm … yeah dad? No, no I'm okay … Yeah … nothing to worry about. I'm sure they've had a lot worse ones than that. Yeah … I'm fine … just kinda … rattled you know. A big surprise for me.” He looked right up at Andrea with that last comment. “I'll see you at home for dinner … yeah … bye.”
After ending the call and putting the phone back in his pocket, Ryan took a big sigh, closed his eyes, and gestured with his palms flat out in front of him. “Look … before we go on, can you like … get rid of the boulder? Because having you stand there and do the whole Atlas thing is really messing with me right now.”
Andrea blinked and then smiled, like she had forgotten she was holding the slab of rock. “Oh … yeah. Hang on. Be back in just a sec.” And with that, she floated up off the ground a bit, then flew down the slope of the hill to set the boulder down at the base. She was smiling and dusting off her hands as she flew back up and landed back in front of Ryan. “There we go …”
Ryan remained crouching, staring in amazement, his mouth agape. He blinked a few times and shook his head a bit to clear it. “Okay … I'm dreaming … that's it … just a weird dream, that's all. Or even better … Bryce and his buds really did kick the crap outta me and this is all a delusion from the concussion …”
Andrea slowly walked over and put her hand on Ryan's shoulder. “No. No you're not dreaming. This is real. I did just lift that boulder and flew,” she said softly. Her hand gently took Ryan's and she guided him up to a standing position. “And yeah …” she nodded, seeing the look of shock on his face. “Sometimes I'm as scared about this as you are right now.”
It was the look on her face that brought Ryan out of his shock. He gazed upon her as she helped him up, and he saw the doubts, the isolation … the loneliness of being so different at an age where acceptance is the most important thing. He put a hand to his head and rubbed his temples. “Okay … ummm … look … let's just get off this hillside right now. We can talk more when we're out of the range of any more falling boulders.” There was a faint smile on his lips and he put his hand on her arm; partially to reassure her, but also to assure himself that this was, in fact, real. That she was real.
“I wasn't always like this,” Andrea said as they drove back into town. “I was totally normal from birth. I had a normal life. Friends, hanging out, riding horses. I was just … your average teenage girl.”
Ryan nodded. “So, what happened?”
Andrea shook her head. “I don't know. I just woke up one morning in the middle of Spring Break this year and …” She sighed and looked out the window. “I have this beautiful wood canopy bed. I've had it since I was in the third grade. It always made me feel like I was a princess, just having it. So I woke up that morning and stretched a bit, using a post to hold onto. It splintered in my grasp.” Andrea paused for a bit. “It freaked me out, but I thought the wood must have rotted away. Then I broke the knob on my bedroom door. Solid brass, and … it was like tinfoil in my hand. I screamed and Mom and Dad came running to see what had happened. They were just as shocked as I was. When I looked in the mirror, I saw that it wasn't because of the doorknob or the bed, either. I had grown about a half foot, and …” She gestured towards her chest. “I had filled out a lot more.”
Ryan glanced over to Andrea in sympathy, hearing the pain starting to form in her voice. “What happened next?”
“Over the rest of the break, I grew more and … I broke a lot of things trying to get used to my new strength. Mom and Dad … they tried their best and were all smiles but …” She looked over to Ryan with tears in her eyes. “They're scared of me … of what I can do. I can see it all the time.
Ryan reached out with his right hand and gently placed it on Andrea's arm. “Hey … I'm sure they still love you … it's just a lot to take in, you know? I mean … going from a normal life to having Supergirl as a daughter … it's gonna take some adjustments, ya know?”
Andrea smiled as she sniffled a bit and rubbed away the tears. “Thanks. And I know that but … it still hurts. And I was so scared, I kept away from my friends for a while because I didn't want to hurt them or show what I could do by accident. By the time I was more comfortable with it, most of the kids at school had seen what I looked like now and figured that puberty hit me big time and I was a snobby bitch with a killer body because I kept away from everyone.”
“So that's what's going on with the shy girl routine …”
“Yeah,” Andrea nodded in agreement.” After a while, it just became second nature. I just … need to work back into being friends, I guess.”
Ryan came back to the car carrying two large Cokes and a large basket of fries. They had decided to stop at the drive in near the outskirts of town to finish their talk. And as he snuck a quick sample, he had to admit that Andrea had been right: the fries here were really damn good. “So, what else can you do? Besides strength and flying and running fast?” he asked as he handed her one of the drinks and slid into the driver seat.
“Well … I've got improved sight and hearing. If I focus, I can see maybe a mile or two off. The hearing's a bitch, though.” She paused while she took a drink and munched down some fries. “It took me a while to get used to that and learn how to drown out all the sounds that come in. You wouldn't believe all the Girl's Room gossip I heard from across the school.” She smiled and giggled, something that Ryan found to be infectious and joined her. “And … I'm pretty … well … indestructible.”
Ryan coughed as he drank, “Whoa … how'd you figure that one out?”
Andrea sighed. “Well … when I crushed the bedpost … there were no splinters or cuts on my hand. So, eventually … I got curious. I know it sounds sick and weird, trying to hurt yourself, but …” She shrugged. “Anyways, after a few 'accidents' in the kitchen while cooking, some slips of the knife while cutting vegetables, touching a hot burner while no-one was looking, I found out that I was knife and burn proof. I stopped trying after that … I was just trying to see what I could do, you know? I don't get off on pain or anything like that.”
Ryan nodded in assurance. “I understand. It is weird but … yeah, I'd probably do the same thing in your shoes.”
Andrea looked relieved and smiled before going on. “Thanks … I'm glad you're not totally freaked by all of this. I haven't had anyone to talk with about what's happened. But anyways … like I said, I was satisfied, but then I had a real accident.”
Ryan looked at her curiously. “What happened?”
“Well … like I said, I like riding my bike out to that overlook we went to today. In the summer, I liked going out there at night and look at the stars for a while. You know … wondering if I was really adopted and came from planet Krypton or something like that.” She smiled sheepishly and shrugged the notion off. “Anyways, I was coming home real late one night. Like around midnight. I was coming off the dirt road and getting on the highway back to town, when this semi came around the curve, headed for town. They figured out that the driver had fallen asleep, because he didn't turn with the highway, just kept going straight. I didn't see him until it was too late and then …” She shrugged again. “The police figured he was doing about 70 miles an hour when he went off the road. He plowed right into me and I bounced off like a hundred yards or something.” She shook her head. “Nothing. Not even a bruise or a sore spot.”
Ryan blinked in amazement. “You got hit by a truck going 70 and you didn't get hurt? That's … wow. Maybe I should start calling you Kara.”
Andrea smiled at the joke. “Nah … but my friends call me Drea. If you want to, I mean.” She quickly turned and looked out the window as her face began to blush.
“That's cool … Drea.” Ryan smiled back at her and finished off his drink with a slurping sound. “But back to the truck … what happened after that? Did the police find out?”
Andrea shook her head. “No. I was shaken up but still had it together enough to collect what was left of my bike at super-speed. I also got the driver out and drug him to the side of the road. There wasn't any front-end damage to the truck. I guess because I wasn't set. You know how in the movies and TV, whenever the car or truck crashes into the superhero, he sets himself and the car wraps it's front end around him? That didn't happen. Probably because I didn't have time to brace myself.”
Ryan slowly nodded. “Yeah … like inertia and all that. Sounds like you're going to have to pay more attention in physics now.”
“Yeah … So … what do you think … about all this?
Ryan sighed and nodded slightly. “I guess … I mean … I'm still taking it all in. I'm still in shock. How often do you come across a real-live Supergirl?” He noticed the time on the radio's clock. “It's starting to get late. Let me take you home, okay?”
Andrea just sat there and nodded.
Ryan didn't sleep much that night. He kept thinking back to the look of disappointment on Andrea's face. She had tried to reach out to him and he had brushed her off. Maybe not exactly, but he hadn't given her any hope, either.
He couldn't focus much on his first two classes, either. He remembered how sad she looked when she talked about her parents, her friendships falling apart … everything. She had so much power, but could be hurt so easily.
At third period, Andrea didn't show much reaction as Ryan walked into the World History class. She just looked up briefly, then went back to looking at her notes. Ryan idly took notes on the day's lecture, focusing more on wondering about Andrea. Would it really be that bad, he wondered, to just be her friend? Someone she can talk to?
Someone to let her know that at least in some ways, she was still human?
It was as the class filed out after the lesson that Ryan made up his mind. Andrea was one of the first to leave, quickly walking out the door. And he saw the glances and heard the whispers of some of the other students as they watched Andrea leave. Then he caught a few of them glancing over at him, with looks ranging from wonder to pity to disdain. They all knew who Andrea had left school with yesterday, and it looked like the rumor mill was already hard at work. Ryan just collected his books and stalked out.
After fourth period, he found her at lunch sitting by herself under a cluster of trees. “Hey … is this seat taken?”
Andrea's face brightened as she saw him. “Umm … doesn't look like it.” The smile on her face seemed to make everything brighter for Ryan as he sat next to her. “I didn't think … after yesterday …”
“It's cool,” Ryan said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “And I'm the one that should say sorry, you know? I was just … really weirded out by everything. But, I'm really glad we met, you know?” He held out his hand. “So, friends?”
Andrea put down her sandwich and leaned over to give him a hug. Ryan tensed up, afraid that the next sound he'd hear would be his ribs cracking from a super-powered bear hug; but while the embrace was strong, there was also a gentleness to it. And Ryan found himself distracted by the scent of her hair, instead of worrying about her accidentally crushing him to death.
As the embrace ended, Ryan reached into his backpack and pulled out the brown bag that contained his lunch. “It was the super-hearing, wasn't it?” he asked quietly as he unwrapped his sandwich. “That's why you haven't been able to go back to your old friends. You didn't just hear all the gossip, you heard the things they said when you weren't around.”
Andrea looked stunned at Ryan's question, her sandwich held near her face as she stopped mid bite. Then she closed her eyes and nodded. “It …”
Ryan placed his hand on hers and looked into her eyes. “It's just high school crap. It happens all the time, and it doesn't mean anything. The ones that really care about you, they'll come back. As for the rest of them …” He shrugged and took a bite of his sandwich. “Screw 'em. They don't know who they're missing out on … Supergirl.” And he gave her a teasing wink.
Andrea giggled and winked back. “If you say so … Jimmy.”
Ryan snorted in laughter. “Okay … that officially crossed the line, there. But seriously, what do you plan on doing? Are you gonna do the whole superheroine thing? Spandex and all?”
Andrea shrugged a bit. “I don't know … I mean, I don't know if these powers will last, I don't know how much I can really do … I don't know if I'm the only one like this or not.”
Ryan nodded slowly. “Well. Maybe it's time to find some answers.”
Next: Testing the waters.